Sony puts focus on smartphone camera prowess with Xperia Z1

4 Sep 2013

The Sony Xperia Z1 in white and purple options

Announced today at consumer electronics show IFA Berlin, the Xperia Z1 from Sony promises the performance of a compact camera from a smartphone, as well as amped-up specifications worthy of a new flagship device.

The 5-inch Xperia Z1 joins the premium line-up of Z-branded products from Sony, which includes the current flagship Xperia Z smartphone, the phablet-sized Xperia Z Ultra and the Xperia Tablet Z.

Like the other products in this range, the Z1 is waterproof and dust-resistant, and it has the IP55 and IP58 credentials to back that up.

It also features a display enriched by Sony’s Triluminos Display for Mobile and X-Reality for Mobile engine, 2GB RAM, flash storage up to 16GB (plus micro-SD expansion up to 64GB), and a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.

Compact camera performance

What makes the Z1 stand out, though, is its camera capabilities. Fitted with Sony’s award-winning 27mm wide-angle G Lens, it offers an aperture of f2.0. Behind that lens is a custom-made 1/2.3-type 20.7MP Exmor RS for mobile CMOS image sensor and Bionz for Mobile image processing engine.

What you’re seeing there are compact camera specifications packed into the slim body of a smartphone. The direction Sony is taking with with Xperia Z1 is a clear attempt to head off competition from the likes of Nokia’s Lumia 1020 and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Zoom, which put camera functionality at the forefront.

To stand out from the pack, Sony is also working with developers on a unique suite of Xperia Camera apps to complement the Xperia Z1’s powerful camera. Social Live will let users broadcast moments live to Facebook and see friends’ comments right on the screen. Info-eye is a visual search app that provides related information on landmarks and items like books or wine when captured with the camera. Timeshift Burst captures 61 images in two seconds, giving the user a chance to select the best image. And, finally, AR Effect lets users customise their images with overlaid augmented reality animations.

Gadget ecosystem

On top of this, the Xperia Z1 has an NFC sensor, making it compatible with a wide range of Sony products and accessories – a range Sony expects to reach 100 products by year end, encompassing TVs, headphones, speakers, tablets, the Sony SmartWatch 2 and more.

Unique accessories perfectly paired with the Z1 include the QX10 and QX100 lens cameras designed to mount to smartphones, a Smart Imaging Stand that will detect smiles and captures photos hands-free, and a Smartphone Tripod for extra stability when shooting pictures or video.

Available in black, white and purple, the Xperia Z1 will operate on Android and will be equipped for 4G LTE broadband. It also packs a 3,000 mAh battery which promises hefty performance, particularly if used in conjunction with Sony’s power-saving Battery Stamina mode.

The Sony Xperia Z1 will launch globally this month.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.